Just a stone`s throw from the bustling Visitor Center and full-to-capacity car park, I was surprised to find the Oyado Noshiyu Inn(お宿 のし湯) grounds quiet and peaceful on a Friday afternoon during Golden Week. This is the entrance to the compound:
As usual there were no signs in English and I almost took a wrong turning,but here I found the green and shady entrance to the women`s outdoor bath.
I explored the fairly large,but slightly shallow bath,which has a small roofed area for rainy days and a water massage for your tired shoulders. The bath is surrounded by quite dense trees and greenery with low branches hanging overhead,which gives a very `close to nature` feel,but at the same time means that there will be detritus floating around with you as you bathe. A sign in Japanese also explains that because of the close proximity to nature here shampoo and body soap are not provided,and visitors should please not use their own. Water runs into a large tub just at the bottom of the steps as you enter from the changing room,and here you should rinse your body before entering and on getting out of the main bath.
There is also one private bath for hire here for 500yen per person per 40minute time slot,but the other private baths (standing bath,semi-outdoor bath) are for ryokan guests only. A member of staff gave me a quick tour of the complex so I had sneak peeks of all of them,and as I was leaving…the Golden Week visitors started pouring in. Finding a car park space in Kurokawa will be tricky over the next few days so you might be directed to one of the overflow car parks ,but even so the distances from the center on foot are not far,and strolling around the narrow streets of Kurokawa is a pleasure not to be missed during your visit.
In summary…….central location yet close to nature
Would I visit again? Yes,it`s a convenient 2 minute walk from the Visitor Center
Staff: very helpful and spoke some English